Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Today, let’s talk about grades.

I love to read discussion about grades because I like to see the struggle that seems to be so intense when one discusses grades or marks.

It seems that most educators would say that they are concerned with student learning and achievement.  Apart from one or two teacher that I have been around, they all want their students to perform well.  What does ‘perform well’ mean though?  Does it mean that hey want to see the standardized test at high marks or the final grade in the class to be an A or the student to leave the class being able to show evidence of learning or for a student to be able regurgitate information back or mastery of all of the skills outlined by the course of study?  What does it mean?

For most schools, a student’s performance is measured periodically and cumulatively by a grade of A (superior), B (above average), C (average), D (below average), or F (failure).  These grades are the standard by which students rate themselves and educators rank students.  The grade is meant to be a scale that is used to track a student’s performance for the students own good, but it has grown into a monster of expectation, guilt, demoralization, false hope, and false identity.

Grades are an idol or a destructive force to many students.  The grade becomes the goal or the consequence to be avoided.  Shame on educators when we use a grade to shame students into obedience.  Shame on parents when they hang a grade over their child’s head.  Shame on our culture for allowing this atrocity to go on.

I want to bring learning back to my classroom for the sake of growth and equipping students for the future.  What good is it to gain the A and lose your learning?  I must give a grade to my students, but I want it to be different than it has been.

I understand that measuring growth is the easiest way to hold people accountable in the system that we have as public educators, but it is flawed and the data is bad data.  There in no depth to the numbers.  There is no genuine accountability there.  Teachers are afraid of grading practices because that measuring stick that is beat over heads when the numbers are not favorable.  There must be a better way.

Sorry for the rant, but that’s all I have right now.

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